SANTA MONICA—The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced on Wednesday, March 25 that gun shops are non-essential businesses and need to shut down immediately.
This announcement caused Second Amendment advocates to challenge this immediate shut down in court. The executive director of Gun Owners of California, Sam Paredes, said that his organization plans to take legal action to overturn Villanueva’s decision. Advocates believe that forcing gun stores to close to maintain social distancing standards is a violation of constitutional rights.
LASD Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement, “It’s not an issue of banning the sales of guns. However, that is not a license, then, for everyone to do a panic gun buy and rushing to stores, which is now what we’re seeing. That violates the whole issue of social distancing, and it’s creating its own attractive nuisance.” Over 1,300 deputies will be going across Los Angeles County to enforce business closures. According to Villanueva, many gun shops have complied with the order and deputies have not issued citations.
Locals have complained that other businesses have not been complying with the orders to shut down. These businesses include night clubs, bars and strips clubs. According to Villanueva, no citations have been issued to these businesses yet. He said that he is hoping the businesses will cooperate voluntarily.
There is some debate among officials about what classifies as a “non-essential business.” The county counsel’s office disagrees with the sheriff that gun shops should be considered non-essential. It is up to Governor Newsom to determine what qualifies as a non-essential business.
Los Angeles is the country’s largest county containing 10 million residents. Last week, the county enacted a stay-at-home order forcing all non-essential businesses to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus.